Tag Archives: Bar

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A Taste of So IN | Gospel Bird

Take me to Church

Gospel Bird: more Than ‘Just a chicken Place’

By Mandy Wold Detwiler | Photos by Josh Keown

Restaurateur Eric Morris didn’t set out to open a chicken joint when Gospel Bird landed in New Albany in February 2016. The fledgling restaurant’s owner has a storied history amongst Kentuckiana restaurants, having begun his career as a dishwasher at Mark’s Feed Store, putting in time at Café Emily, serving as sous chef at Seviche, and spearheading the now-closed Loop 22 and the wildly popular Game and Hammerheads.

tsi2“Loop was a menu that I created that was Southern influenced,” Morris says. “There’s a lot of chicken and just Southern food in general. There are dishes (at Gospel Bird) that are pretty much the same as they were at Loop. That’s where I honed in on my own and what I enjoyed to cook.”

After Loop 22 closed, Morris sought a spot for his own restaurant, and “Louisville’s just become so saturated with restaurants,” he says. “It seems like there’s one opening every week. I’m from Louisville and as much as I’d love to have a restaurant there, I kind of saw what was happening in New Albany. It was kind of starting to explode. I saw places like the Dragon King’s Daughter and Quills, and Toast and Wick’s –– all these people that had Louisville restaurants were opening up over here. With The Exchange (Pub + Kitchen) and Feast kind of being the two heavy hitters here that were (helmed) by local boys, you really got to see something different that was going on here … and I wanted to get in early before the boom happened.”

Founded in a large rustic space most famously occupied by The Irish Exit, Morris wanted Gospel Bird to have strong Southern influences right from the start. “My dad’s a big-time hunter,” he says. “And growing up … he’d always take me hunting and fishing from the time I was real little.”

Gospel Bird started with a larger menu and a greater focus on higher-end dining before Morris quickly recognized his clientele as less formal and looking for quality food at a good price. With a farmer’s market just steps behind the restaurant, Morris paired down his menu to a set of staples and chose to add seasonal offerings. “You have a lot more fun, fresh food to play with,” he says. “It naturally builds, because you’re like ‘Oh, man! They’ve got this great eggplant!’ Or ‘These beets or collard greens are coming in.’ Your menu just naturally gets bigger and bigger.”

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With the restaurant’s given name paying homage to the perennial post-church service fried chicken, the dish does take center stage on Gospel Bird’s menu. “The plan was never to be a fried chicken place,” Morris says. “That wasn’t the goal at all. The goal was to be a Southern restaurant. … People around town as we starting building it started calling us ‘the chicken place.’ When we first opened, we only had one fryer. We hadn’t planned on doing too much of that stuff. The more buzz (we got) around town … we realized we don’t want to sell them what we want. We want them to buy what they want. So we kind of became a fried chicken place. That’s been our staple, obviously.”

Did Morris know Gospel Bird was a concept that would work well in downtown New Albany?tsi “Definitely,” he says with confidence. “I’m about to open a seafood restaurant down the street ––Hull and High Water. Kind of the reason I’m moving to seafood is the same reason I did this. It’s filling something that’s not here. Obviously, I wouldn’t come over here and do pizza and burgers, or anything like that.

“As far as some good, high-end Southern cooking, there wasn’t any in Southern Indiana and it’s almost like taking country food to country folk. … People mistake this place as being fancy. You look at the menu (and) a half chicken is massive and it’s $12. When we came out of the gate with the first menu, it was fancy. I had an executive chef in here who was extremely talented –– his resume included places like The Oakroom. We learned our demographic very quickly. We changed our menu nine times the first year. We’ve really learned to hone in on what people expect of us. The first four months we were open, we had two-hour waits and were slammed all the time. Part of that was being a new restaurant in the honeymoon phase.”

It was during last summer that Morris saw his business taper off as customers sought lighter fare as the weather turned warmer. “In the winter months, we do more hearty food, soul food,” Morris says, “a lot of smoked items (like) brisket, roasted chicken, shrimp and grits –– big, hearty comfort foods. And now with spring coming, it’ll be 60 percent different from what it is now.”

The spring menu will feature less fried items, vegetables pickled in-house (including a pickled vegetable shrimp jar) and a beet salad. “There will be a lot of new items on there that are light,” Morris says.

Morris expects the new squash and zucchini fries to sell well at under $7 –– they’ll be lightly fried and tossed with garlic and Parmesan. There will be more seafood options as the weather turns warmer, including Bluefin tuna, oysters, stuffed trout and salmon.

Chicken salad also will be available at $8 with a side dish. “People at lunch seem to really, really love that,” Morris says.

A full bar is available at Gospel Bird. “With Southern food, we’ve got to have our bourbon,” Morris says. “It makes sense all around to have (a full bar) because we can have signature cocktails, and we can cook with it.”

Historic downtown New Albany is restaurant-friendly when it comes to applying for a liquor license, and getting a full liquor one over simply serving beer and wine was easier in Indiana than it was in Louisville. Although Gospel Bird does accept reservations, the restaurant fills up quickly at night. The bar seating –– and signature drinks –– is just an extra component that makes the restaurant attractive to potential diners.

tsi3Morris added a patio last summer to the backside of Gospel Bird; the focal point is a 1968 Airstream that has been converted to a bar. This summer, he’ll add an outdoor turf with lawn chairs, giving the restaurant a casual atmosphere for friends to gather outside and have a drink.

“The idea of this place is that it’s meant to be loud, honky-tonk Southern fun,” Morris says. “Come in with your friends. We have really good food, but we still want to stay true to the southern tradition of people getting together. You get together with some friends, you have some beers, you have some ribs. We’re not a fancy restaurant, and we don’t want to be. We just want to be a place that serves really, really good food that’s inventive but in no way pretentious.”

What’s to eat? Gospel Bird’s appetizers range from $6 to $10, while entrées are priced from $20 to $23. The most popular appetizer is the Idgie and Ruth ($7), fried green tomatoes named after the main characters in the feature film of the same name.

Amongst the restaurant’s signature chicken offerings are Thunder Thighs (two boneless, skinless chicken thighs at $10) and a half chicken (a breast, wing, thigh and leg at $12). For $2 more, guests can enjoy all white meat. The Yardbird ($13) is a fried chicken sandwich with bacon, cheddar, slaw and signature “gospel” sauce.

The cauliflower grits ($5) is one of the restaurant’s biggest sellers, so Morris is adding sweet potato grits using a little ginger and allspice to the menu. “We smoke and cure our own house-made bacon,” so we finish (the grits) with a little bit of chopped bacon on top of it.”

Gospel Bird
207 E. Main St.
New Albany

812.725.1054

Reservations accepted

www.orderthebird.com

Monday: CLOSED

Tuesday-Saturday:

Lunch 11 am to 2 p.m.

Dinner 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Sunday: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Brownie’s: Your Closest Home to Home

Photos and Story by Nick Carter

Let’s set the scene: There’s a nip in the air letting you know that winter has officially settled in. This means one sure thing: It’s basketball season in Hoosier Country. Game day is here and IU is set to go up against Purdue in what could casually be called a battle of epic proportions.

You’ve been pumped about this matchup since last year, and nothing could get your blood pumping more, except that your cable subscription does NOT include the one channel the game is being aired on. Frantic, you start calling your friends, hopeful that someone will have that much-needed cable channel.

“Nah, we only have basic.”

“I got rid of my cable years ago. Too expensive!”

“Netflix and brew, dude?”

Exasperated, you wrack your brain for a solution, and then it hits you: Brownie’s “The Shed” Grille & Bar, right in the heart of New Albany, will have the big game on plus so much more (and I’m not just talking about matchups).

Founders Keith and Jason Brown had always dreamed of a place where they could gather with their family and friends; a place that felt like home and memories could be made. They wanted to be able to sit back, have a beer, watch a game and enjoy some good food. Friends inviting friends and forming new relationships. What started out as an idea and a humble beginning eventually became reality when Brownie’s opened their first location 11 years ago in Louisville. Then, having achieved the reputation as “your closest home to home,” they decided to cross the river and opened the West Main Street spot in New Albany in September 2015, now with Neace Ventures owner John Neace and New York Jets offensive tackle Breno Giacomini on board.

b2In that short period, Brownie’s has become the go-to destination for the cable-rogue sports fan, or whoever just wants a solid meal and a good drink. Boasting more than 25 flat screen TVs, there is every possible cable package available, which means you can watch whatever games you want. The Sunday Ticket, Big 10, ESPN College GamePlan, you name it and they have it at Brownie’s. You can sit back and root for your favorite team and enjoy a drink from Brownie’s full service bar, featuring 20 beers on tap and also serving local favorites like Falls City and Old 502 Wines.

If you find yourself getting a little hungry by halftime, there is no need to worry because Brownies has you covered. With a full menu that is described as “your momma’s sports pub food,” there is surely something to please most everyone, from loaded burgers and spicy wings (with 10 different sauces, ranging from “Honey” to “Insane”) to lighter options like fresh-made salads and wraps, and even a few things for the vegetarians.

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Classic items like the Maker’s Mark Burger, served with bacon and Swiss, and Pretzel Nuggets with Beer Cheese always hit the spot. There are also newer items on the menu, such as the Buffalo Chicken Flatbread Pizza. Wash it all down with a cocktail by bartender Jared, and you’ll be a happy camper.

In addition to the standard menu, Brownie’s has a rotating list of homemade plate lunches called the Daily Hot Plate. Items like homemade Meatloaf, Spaghetti and Meatballs, and the Fried Cod Fish Sandwich are certain to make anyone reminisce of days gone by and that special meal their momma used to make. Pop in for a late lunch and you’ll also be able to take advantage of Happy Hour, which takes place 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Hosting an event or needing a venue? Brownie’s features a boxed lunch catering menu that can accommodate parties of 25-200. Or, if you are needing a space for a party or meeting, take advantage of the on-site banquet area which can comfortably seat parties of up to 75 guests. While having fun with your friends, you can step out on the patio for a little cornhole match or start a game of volleyball on one of two sand volleyball courts, weather permitting, of course. They host both private parties and volleyball league matches, and feature live music on Friday and Saturday nights.

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Brownie’s “The Shed” Grille & Bar 822 W. Main St.
New Albany 812.920.0030
www.browniestheshed.com HOURS
11 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Wednesday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday *Be sure to take advantage of the Lunch Club and Brownie Points programs to win free food and gift certificates!